Bipartisan Legislation to Protect First Responders' Health and Safety
U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced bipartisan legislation to help protect the health and safety of firefighters and emergency responders who are frequently exposed to harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foams as they work to keep communities safe.
The Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act of 2019 would direct federal agencies to develop best practices, training, and educational programs to reduce, limit and prevent exposure to PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not naturally breakdown. The bill would also require guidance to be issued on alternative foams and personnel protective equipment that do not contain PFAS.
The PFAS Act of 2019 would direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – to develop educational resources to help protect firefighters, emergency response personnel, and the communities they serve from PFAS exposure.
This would include information for federal, state, and local firefighters on training and best practices to prevent and reduce exposure to PFAS from firefighting foams and protective gear, as well as resources that identify alternatives for firefighting tools and equipment that do not contain PFAS.
“Firefighters are unfortunately exposed to extremely high levels of PFAS chemicals in the line of duty. Despite evidence linking PFAS to serious health problems, very little has been done to address the impact these chemicals can have on the health of the brave men and women who look out for our own safety,” said Senator Peters.